World on Fire: The Central Axis (2015)

Summary:
April 2, 2015: Monsters, time travel, tears in spacetime. Just another Thursday in New York.

Battery Park - Manhattan


Characters

NPCs

  • MONSTERS (by Peggy Carter)

Mood Music:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHcunREYzNY


Thanks to the brilliance of SHIELD scientists (aided by the brilliance of Stark Sr.) means that they've pinpointed the central axis of the Fibonacci spiral forming in both the present and the past.

The anomaly is set to occur, for better or for worse, in a wide-open space. It looked for a time like their calculations were going to place the axis right in the middle of the Hudson, which would be both troubling and tactically difficult. Further calculations revised that estimate and put the axis somewhere in Battery Park. More precise measurements require an on-the-ground analysis. What's also worrying is that there's anywhere for 4-6 events recorded in 1948 that have not yet had a recorded exit event. It's possible they just missed it. It's also possible they're still to occur.

A line of black SUVs roar towards Battery Park. Howard Stark is connected over the radio to the team. He's got a laptop in his lap and is still running through a barrage of calculations. Beside him is a locked and secured black case. "Get the lead out, ladies and gentlemen. The energy's starting to go through the roof!"

*

Simmons had been helping Fitz and Stark snr run calculations. She's currently watching Stark fiddle with his laptop as she slides out of the car .

Herpening the briefcase she's holding, Simmons sets off the FitzSimmons drones. The glowing orbs begin to circle the area feeding data back to the scientists.

*

"Think we get the Predator this time?" Sara asks Paul as she slides out of one of the SUVs, automatically checking her weapon. The gun, that is. The Witchblade is pretty much always loaded, and pretty much never on safety, so there's no point in checking that. She's alert, though, scanning the area for anything that looks like it might be a threat, or anyone who needs to be cleared out first.

*

Meggan isn't sure why… But it seemed like a wonderful day to go and have a little bit of a picnic meal outside. In the Battery, no less, where she headed after doing another bit of her lean-part-time guest-stunt appearance (or fill-ins) on television soap operas.

Being on the television, even if it's as someone else entirely, is thrilling. And so is spring.

Meggan is at present sitting in a tree - not so high up as to be ridiculous but high enough up that there were occasional glances at a free-spirited woman with no shoes on and a sundress sitting, well, on a tree. She has a bag of pita chips and a little thing of hummus upon which to feast; falafel sits in a paper bag, tucked against the tree's trunk.

And then the cops show up. Meggan freezes, mid-crunch, although she relaxes a few seconds later when it becomes relatively clear that they aren't lunging towards her to bust her for aggravated mutancy.

*

It seems that the only time 'off' Jim has been finagling for himself lately comes at the expense of sleep time, or research on the 'Ley Line Issue' that he's continuing to follow up on. When he's chased to 'take some time for himself' by his bosses, he finds himself at a bit of an odd end. He'd tried to do the 'sneak out of town' thing for some time to think and get his thoughts together but he ended up nearly broiled! So now the portly fellow is once again trying to get some 'down' time and just.. let the serious stuff go.

Battery Park sounds like a good place for a walk. He hasn't done a lot of walking lately, what with Pepper being in 'siege' mode over his health and safety — for perfectly good reasons. But when a body needs fresh air, a body needs fresh air, and devil take the hindmost. Oblivious to danger, and to the row of SUVs, the salt and pepper'd haired fellow is entirely too casual about this for his own good. He might even be a candidate for 'crowd control'.

*

What do you bring with you when you're attending a major opening in the spacetime continuum? It's a question frequently asked by those attending. At least it's not a black tie event. All the SHIELD agents combined likely have the usual weapons covered. Personal sidearms, more pwoerful rifles and shotguns in the back. Paul and Sara probably have the occult monster angle covered to a certain degree but, as shown last time, there's no telling what's going to pop through. So what to bring? Once they returned to base after the last foray, Paul assembled a suitable arsenal of potential life saving items. "We'll find out. Hopefully, something I brought will come in useful. Or we'll be lucky and nothing at all will be needed." He gets out of the car and opens the back, taking stock of what's there. Fireproof tarps. Riot shields. Nylon rope. Extra large fire extinguishers, both the chemical kind and the really cold kind. Flame thrower. There's even a Super Soaker loaded with holy water (and didn't that get a strange look from the priest when he asked for a gallon.)

*

Calmly, Steve Rogers hops out of the back seat of one of the SUVs and reaches for his blue helm. "You think we'll see any action today, sir?" a new recruit, Agent Burns asks with a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face. Steve raises an eyebrow in response before he puts the helmet on and begins to fasten the chinstrap. "Hope not."

He ducks back into the truck and pulls out his shield, moving towards the others. "Just the same," he says quietly to burns as he hooks the shield onto his back. "Look alive."

*

Kara rarely got a chance to be ready for trouble, she was usually just responding to it as it happened. So when word leaked down the JL:A Grapevine that the disturbances that had been plaguing the city for months might be happening again, Kara did not hesitate to prepare and fly to Battery Park.

Instead of her usual casual costume, she's wearing something more similar to what Superman may wear; a full body suit. It was what she had dubbed her 'serious business' costume.

Spying Jim walking dangerously close to the potential danger zone she says softly, "Sir, this may not be the safest place."

*

"This is not…this is not good." Howard isn't usually a guy to look overwhelmed. Cool under pressure is sort of his thing. For a guy who has insisted he has all the answers, he's close to sweating bullets. He takes the rugged laptop and shoves it into Fitz's arms quite uncerimoniously, then scoops up his own locked case and a hand device. "Right. We need containment teams set up…well, covering half the damned park." He looks over to Paul and Sara. "We need to keep things contained until the central axis starts to buckle. Then that's my cue."

*

Just because the pinpoint of the spiral isn't happening in the Hudson doesn't mean that some of the other portals may not end up there. The energy exponentially becomes bigger, the static crackling, the sirens of the police breaking and emitting a high pitched shriek before suddenly stopping. That's when a large portal opens up right over the river. It's a bright flash when an incredibly large figure falls from the sky.

The splash is large enough that it crests over the walls holding back the ocean from its artificial shore. Soaking the sidewalks and the newly growing grass of the park, it seems that the intrepid investigators got off lucky.

*

Simmons is watching the data the drones collect as the portal opens and the figure drops. Without really thinking, she grabs her field kit and heads to the edge of the water, feet squelching through the wet grass. She's foccused on working out what has fallen and probably doesn't recognise Jim just yet.

*

Sara gives Howard a bit of a look when he says the whole park needs covered. "That's probably not going to work out the way you-" Oh, hey, look. A giant thing falling out of a portal into the river. For a moment, she just stares at the wall of water. "Well. You know what they say about that water. Now we'll never be able to tell if it was mutated from the portal trip, or the river," she deadpans, even as the Witchblade starts to form a gauntlet over her right hand.

*

This is a lot of people. Meggan's brow furrows. She then lets out a small gasp and drops her pita chip, uneaten, at the sight of Captain America. She makes a subtle squeaking noise, purely to herself.

Everything else — wait, something just landed in the water. Pivoting herself around, Meggan frowns. "Is that why this place seemed so vivid then?" she says to herself, pushing off the tree and landing neatly on her feet.

She doesn't lunge in yet though. This might be a police thing, and she doesn't want to interrupt… /yet/

*

A large dark blue hand raises up onto the ground, hoisting the mass of the creature up toward dry land. Another hand reaches forward, then a third and a fourth. The mass of limbs and body hoists itself up onto the land and starts lumbering towards the lights of the city. Dripping wet, it feels no need to shake itself dry. Leaving wet footprints and streams of water, it lumbers forward, two stories large and angry. %rAs all the monsters have been aggressive and warped until their untimely death, it is safe to say that this creature is headed toward downtown with the intent to do ill. It turns toward Simmons - the first thing it has encountered that is not water or earth. A large hand raises up, intent to either swat or grab her, it's unclear what just yet.

*

Jim glances up from his meandering thoughts and blinks a few times at the woman in a bodysuit like Superman's. "Oh, ah, hello there, Su—" He's about to respond to her a bit further when… it it looks like everything's gone through hell to some other place that's Even Worse. He sees the wave coming and winces a bit as he ducks… nope, not going to… gah. Okay, jacket and clothes soaked to the bone. He's considering a run for it, but the scale of that.. well, whatever that thing is… just leaves him in gawking bystander mode for precious seconds as his human mind tries to wrap around whatever on Earth it could be.

"No no no no.."

He starts backing up all too slowly, Kara seemingly forgotten as he attempts to parse what is going on. Guy should be an easy grab to get out of danger, theoretically.

And then the thing starts to rise up out of the river… and Jim isn't there anymore, replaced by something black, winged, and feathery… Okay, THAT might be a bit harder to grab, especially because it has claws out and seems to be getting its bearings…

"Right." Paul agrees without looking up from making sure everything is ready to grab on a moment's notice. "We keep things under control until the central axis starts to buckle." Whatever that means. And make sure Howard is still alive to do something about it. He looks over at the sounds coming from the river and just watches and something appears and fall into the water. "Remember, things far away look smaller than they are." he tells Sara.

*

Captain America leaves Burns in the dust as he sees the monster come at them with some dangerous intent. He almost looks comical, running at full speed, as his frame goes much faster than it should and his legs begin doing double and triple time as they carry him toward the monster.

As it gets close to Jemma, he reaches up to grab his shield from his back before throwing himself, shield first, into an attempt to intercept the beast and the scientist.

*

Jim is entirely forgotten about by Kara when one of Lovecraft's worst nightmares winks into existence through the portal. This was definitely not good. She watches as Captain America rushes head first into danger and couldn't help but admire the man, smiling as she says to a near-by shield agent, "That's why he's a legend!"

In an instant, Kara as Supergirl is flying towards the endangered Simmons in an attempt to scoop her out of harm's way since it seemed like Cap would have the creature's attention now.

*

Fitz snatches the laptop with a grunt, then looks down to it with a frown. "Bloody good this will be," he mutters. It will be helpful, yes, but he's more or less just grumbling. Finding a good place to set the laptop involves perching it atop a waste receptacle, which the city fortunately has the tax revenue to empty on a bi-daily basis.

For a few moments, the engineer monitors the readings. His Portal Buster is mounted on his back, but for the moment, he refuses to use it. The six slave units have been charged and ride upon the backs of other SHIELD agents, who have been dispersed throughout the park on Fitz's command.

"Oy, based on these readings, it's gonna take " He turns when the portal opens up over the Hudson, mouth ajar. " …. all… six of them… to shut it down." The creature falls, the wave mounts. "Oh, Christ."

When the monster makes a move for land and Simmons, he yelps and makes to dart away from the laptop, but — holy cow, Steve can run! "Jemma, look out!"

*

It's all Howard can do to scramble out of the way. He drops to a roll and then gets back to his feet with far more agility than anyone would ever give him credit for. He grabs for the case and makes his way over to Fitz's position. He's just about to consider dodging forward to reach for Jemma when he realizes the heroes have it well in-hand.

"Fitz! The spiral. I think the events are intensifying towards the axis. That means we're going to see at least four more portals open before the axis starts to breach. Can your busters seal them? I have a set of probable coordinates." He shoves the hand device at the younger scientist. Then he reaches up to his radio and calls out to everyone. "Head's up! This party's only starting!"

*

Staggering to a halt as the poor creature comes at her, Simmons starts backpedalling quickly, not quite avoiding the limb that is aimed at her. Off balance, the young biochem staggers barely keeping her balance. Not exactly a well thought out action on her part.

As Steve puts himself in the way of the creature, Simmons turns on heel and begins to run back towards Fitz. "Must remember that not everything that comes through isn't human."

*

Sara's taken half a dozen steps toward the monster when Howard announces more are inbound, armor crossing her shoulders and slowly weaving across her entire body. But if there are more on the way, and they could be as bad as that…Steve's going to have to handle Big Boy Blue on his own. "Point me toward the next likely problem area, Fitz," she calls back to the scientist, a broad, curved blade spinning into her hand.

*

People are falling back from that THING that came out of the river. Well that's reasonable, Meggan thinks, leaning forwards as her toes curl into the slightly dingy grass of the Battery. Captain America's lunging forwards — That Super-person's sweeping down —

What would I do in a situation like that? Oh yes, Meggan thinks, raising up her hand, palm held out towards the creature. For a fleeting moment she is immensely aware of the vast network of cables, tunnels, and tubes that permeate the City, blending like roots in with the ground of the distant Catskills, the river valley -

It flows out, flows back in, flows THROUGH Meggan, and as she barks out a loud and clear, "OI!" at the creature, it surges forwards in an actinically bright blast of magenta-cherry heat, aimed at its flank.

Meggan then enthusiastically waves at Captain America, grinning. Hopefully she won't get clobbered.

*

The obsidian avianoid does some quick limb stretches and hops as the partner's idol — The First Avenger— dives towards scientists and… that blur was the person that was just talking to Jim…

It launches itself skywards and attempts to fly towards whatever the thing has for a 'face', but mindful to keep *out* of the path of the mouth. Not because it is afraid of some horrific beam weapon, but rather the concern that it might get easily chomped in half by such a maw.

Howard's shouted warning comes mid-flight, and the ancient entity breaks up and left to try and loop around for a better view of the area and whatever other threats are present. If this is the *starting event* of the 'party', what else are those present facing off against?

Just as Sara is doing, Paul's staying right where he is. Between Steve and Kara, the giant should be taken care of. Probably just Kara is enough. In any case, they're not here to play with the monsters that show up. "How long till this axis buckles?" he asks Howard. It's their job to keep Howard functional so he can shut things down.

*

There's the sound of a large ring as the creature's fist connects with Captain America's shield. The Vibranium does it's duty, the creature actually stepping backward as the force it put against attempting to hit Simmons is rebounded against it. With a roar, four arms reach for Steve now, the ground even quaking a bit as it moves angrily toward trying to take out the man of red, white and blue. The energy hits against him, rocking it just slightly to through it off balance. Still intent, though, it wobbles in its charge.

There is little time to breathe as another shock of energy reverberates across the park. Another portal opens, this time behind Steve, though a bit further off. Another creature drops to the ground. It is not as large as the one that fell into the river. As it touches the ground the grass around it withers and dies.

*

Steve pauses briefly to check his six, and the hesitation is enough for the beast to act. It reaches around the shield and lifts the Star Spangled Avenger into the air. With a mighty cock of the air, it flings Steve Rogers off into the distance out over the river.

*

Simmons was a squishy human and Kara didn't want her to be crushed, mustering all of her speed she grabs the young biochemist by the waist and flies her to where Simmons is and plops her down without much ceremony, "Miss, you and the other agents need to get back. We can't fight this and keep everyone safe at the same time."

When Simmons is back with Fitz, hopefully able to do their scientific magic together; Supergirl races back towards the creature.

"Hey Ugly!!!! Over here. Yoohoo!" Kara is waving at the creature and firing red beams of laser energy straight from her eyes attempting to slice off some of the many appendages and get its attention. She hoped Cap would be ok.

*

"Uh, given recharge time and power output relative to trans-temporal disturbance," Fitz answers Howard, "we only have enough juice to handle two portals."

They'll need to choose wisely.

*

Sara's call gets him working. "Ahhhh, oh! Over there!" He points her to where the next portal is opening — damn, that was fast! "Okay, two more to go, but — we're going to need to reserve power for the final one. No time for recharge. Just… give me a moment!"

*

"Look, I hate to distract you, pal," Howard ducks as a bit of debris goes flying overhead. "But I have a secondary task for you. You see this?" He pats the case. "If anything happens to me, you have to get this to the central axis and link up the power source with the second one. They need to be within six feet of the singularity, or else it won't zip up."

For once, Fitz can't actually know what Howard's talking about. It's not a genius thing, it's a lack of information thing.

To Paul he says, "The events should speed up exponentially." Which means a big creature party before they're through.

*

"Yes, Right." Simmons answers Supergirl "Thanks for the lift and all that." Looking to the case Howard pats, she listens to the instruction.

*

"Dammit, Steve," Sara mutters as the Captain gets flung into the river. She turns a brief, concerned look toward where he might land, but she knows he can handle a little swim. The question is who that leaves to cover the next round of creatures. A quick head count shows at least three non-SHIELD hero sorts, which means…the smart thing is still to cover the scientists. "Nothing's happening to you, Stark," she says over her shoulder to the scientist. "Not unless one of your own things blows you up."

*

Meggan's mouth hangs open in shock as Captain America is spiked clear into New Jersey (apparently). She can't fly that quickly to take after him. The creature's four armed majesty is then punctuated by something else -

Which lands, and kills the grass around it. It is the grass-killing creature to which Meggan directs her attention. She sweeps her hand around as if to scoop the air, which would be very dramatic if the surging burst of heat-exchanged energy, drawn from the TERRIBLE TIDES of the east river, did not actually just snap out without real care for where Meggan gestured.

"Excuse me!" she calls up to Kara. "I'm sorry, I hate to intrude — what's going on?!"

"I mean other than the obvious," Meggan continues, sweeping another concussive burst towards Mr. Grass-Murderer over there. Her hummus falls out of the tree behind her; but there is no time to mourn.

*

Well, the plus side of breaking away from the biggest of the beasts was reaction time. When Cap goes flying out to the river, the avianoid folds its wings down and DIVES to catch the fellow in a swoop, claws retracting mere seconds before it banks up and around, hopefully with the fellow in hand.

"Got one, taking one back in! Hang on!"

With success of such an effort, it'll rapidly beat its wings and climb, turning on its left wing to bring Steve to the back of the largest thing's neck. With that kind of angle of attack, the super soldier can hopefully deal with the target as the Corvinus breaks off and looks for another target.

There appears to be some sort of plan to stabilize the area. They just need time and coverage to make it happen.

*

When Fitz points out the location of the next portal, Paul watches it open and the being emerge. The dying of the vegetation around it is similar to the acid creature they already fought and is why he brought such a weird collection of equipment. "He pulls out a fire extinguisher and tosses it to his partner. "Sara, think fast." Then he pulls out the flame thrower and straps it onto his back. Taking the business end into his hands, he walks toward the Captain Defoliant a few steps, aims, ignotes, and then fires.

*

After tossing Captain America out into the waves, the large blue creature has lost it's central thrust of motion. However, luckily for it, something else attacked it. Turning toward Meggan, the two story creature raises its limbs and moves toward her with a roar. The red laser beams sear into it with an angry power, but its singular focus is again focused on someone else.

The second greyish figure from the opened portal moves slower, more deliberate. It starts moving menacingly toward the scientists and those protecting them. The fire splashes over it, causing an inhuman shriek of pain. But, still it moves forward, arms outstretched toward Paul in the hope that it can grab him.

And, to add to the fun, the telltale spike of energy starts to build again. Another portal so soon?

*

Steve soars through the air and flails for the first few moments. But when he gets his bearings he begins to tuck himself behind his shield, thinking he'll probably survive whatever fall comes if he can time it just right. From there, he begins to realize he's headed straight for the water. And from th—

Plucked from the air by Corvinus, Steve looks up to the bird and gives a nod. "I owe ya one," he remarks thankfully. "Won't eat chicken for at least a month. Scout's honor."

When he gets dropped off on the monster's back, Steve wastes no time. He begins to mash the neck of the beast over and over as fast as he can with the edge of his shield, looking for all the world like a firing piston in an old timey vehicle.

*

Kara doesn't look over at Meggan when the other woman asks her what is going on, "Basically, there are space-time continuum disturbances and they're spitting out some kind of strange mutated beasts that like to hurt others." She pauses in between firing lasers at the beast to add, "Short version: Beat it up and make sure nobody gets hurt!"

Ceasing her laser beams for a moment she looks utterly confused at the beast and it's singular desire to ignore her like a mosquito.

Flying towards it as fast as she can she attempts to punch it right in the face, "IGNORE THIS!!!!!!"

*

"What the hell does that mean?" Refardless, Fitz snatches up the case and opens it, inspecting what's inside.

*

Howard snatches the case back from Fitz and wags a finger at him. "You only need to know if one of those monsters eats me, okay?" He looks pointedly towards Paul and Sara. "And that's not going to…" he looks down at his device. "The central axis. I've pinpointed it." He feeds the coordinates to the other scientists. "It's going to…really?" he checks again. "….end up in roughly the centre of Castle Clinton."

*

With so many different heroes attacking the large beast, it roars again, flailing to get the Corvinus deposited Captain America off of its neck. Each blow the shield makes at its neck drives deeper and deeper into its flesh, not quite drawing blood until the last blow, where it embeds itself, a spray of dark black liquid spraying outward. Kara's blow knocks the creature to the side, violently tumbling through the park as it attempts to dislodge Steve off its neck. It crashes through a few trees and finally comes to a rest a few yards away. It's slow to get up, but it certainly does so, still angry and looking to attack anyone within eyesight.

Another portal opens up further down the path, this time further than before, practically right on top of the officers guarding the perimeter. It's clear that the portals are slowly splintering around Castle Clinton, though not exactly in any proper order. A pile of rocks drops, crushing a car. It may be assumed it's just rocks, but those investigating know better. It soon starts to move, slow, but filled with malice as it smashes a heavy hand against a fleeing police officer, sending her flying.

*

Watching in fascinated horror as the beings come through the portals, Simmons holds her peace. The beings may be human but they won't live long at any rate, finishing them quickly is the best thing.

As the next portal opens, Simmons ducks to avoid flying debris, and watches as the police officer goes flying.

*

"My hands are full of sword!" Sara probably would have put it more eloquently if she'd had time to think about it, but at least the Witchblade responds to thought. The sword is gone when she reaches out to catch the fire extinguisher, flipping the switch and keeping an eye on the scientists behind her. When Howard announces where the final portal will be, she falls back toward them. "Let's move it, people. Paul, you got our backs?"

*

"It's funny isn't it, how it often comes to that," Meggan answers Kara thoughtfully. But then Captain America's coming back—

Which is good because she's facing something nearly four times her height. Meggan stares up at the creature, clenching her fingers into fists. Come on, she tells herself, it can't be that much far off from a Sentinel—

And there it goes. The black blood splatters over Meggan, who bears with it with a grimace. But the sight of all of these portals ripping open towards the castle, such as it may be, makes her cast a glance up towards the evidently-stronger Kara: "Can you —?"

With that, Meggan starts running towards the castle. Bouncing, really. 'I never get to be in uniform for these,' she thinks to herself. 'Maybe I should get a singlet or something. Wear it under the day clothes.'

*

The Corvinus assesses the field for a new target. While the concept of 'local superiority' on the large entity is a wonderful concept, this is a siege of sorts, and no amount of victory over any one target will make up for defeat at the hands of another. In a way, this appeals to its internal logistics. It makes sense. On a different level, though, the partner is practically having a stroke trying to figure out how to handle the situation.

Fortunately, aeons-old intelligences are easily capable of the great math of triage, and it launches towards 'Rocky'.

"Got this one. GO!"

En route it picks up a picnic table from the park with a swift YANK and sends it hurtling towards the most recently arrived behemoth.

"One stops this noise."

Well, that's not good. Paul backs up, shutting off the flamethrower and transferring the nozzle to just one hand so he can draw his pistol and fire into the thing's head. Anything that can be set on fire and continue walking while more or less ignoring it counts as a thing. "Uncertain." he tells Sara then flicks a quick glance behind him at the sound of a crunching car. Since the creature is still coming, he fires some more where a heart should be. "Forget the fire extinguisher. Cut its head off."

*

Steve goes down with the beast, holding on tight to his shield as the duo go down. Despite landing in a heap, Cap is up on his feet as quick as possible and begins to work on the shield still deep with the neck. His feet and leg muscles dig a he tries to drive the shield even further into the neck as the black blood spills all over him, tarnishing his normally crisp uniform, as he tries to clip something important in that mass of mess.

"Can I what?" Kara is replying to Meggan even as the other woman is rushing off towards the castle. The rock beasts attacking police officers draw Kara's attention now and she nods to Steve and Corvinus, "I think you've got this one, Cap."

*

Kara tries to catch the police officer before she can take more damage and will set her down gently before racing towards the rock beasts.

She was not showing mercy, since she knew these creatures would just die horribly either way. Her laser beam eyes are attempting to split the rock monster that attacked the police officer into tiny shards.

*

Fitz positively glowers at Howard. "Aw right, mate, keep your bloody secrets!"

Fitz locks in on Castle Clinton, then musters those SHIELD agents bearing the slave Portal Busters. The group heads toward the final target, dispersing themselves into a circle around the target. One by one, they charge their dimensional-portal-blocking wands and prepare for the final event.

Fitz winces at all of the destruction, but he's got to trust in his comrades and various metas present to look out for his Scottish arse. After all, there's no singlet under that cardigan; just a squishy bloke with fringe tech strapped to his back.

Leo's Portal Buster charges with a sci-fi style whine. "Ready!" he calls out.

*

The grey creatures continues to advance on Paul as it smolders and continues to be on fire. Whatever it is, it's flammable, but resilient. The bullets hit in the head and chest square on. The creature isn't attempting to hide, nor is it swerving from the pursuit of Paul. Each bullet pushes the creature back a few steps, but still it comes at the former detective and current agent of SHIELD. Each movement on the grass, it grows taller. Once it touches pavement, the movement slows.

*

The Rock monster crushes another car in its fury. It makes no sound other than the cracking of stones. The police officer is caught. Though still quite injured by the horrible blow to her chest, she is saved another blow against a building or the ground. Corvinus' picnic table crashes against the stone features, splintering into little bits. It's enough to garner attention, though. The large creature leaps toward the winged figure. It does not get very high, but it does manage to crush another police cruiser, police officers running this way and that in an attempt to get out of the way of its mass. The lasers blast bits of rock off of it, damaging but not stopping the creature as it rampages.

*

"There, Fitz. Right there. Six o'clock. Power spike!" Howard reaches for a small flare from his pocket and tosses it up. It dances in the air and illuminates the very first tendrils of energy that will become a portal within seconds.

In the meantime, and perhaps slipping the watch of his bodyguards, the elder Stark heads off at a run towards the Castle. He dodges creature blood and rocks and debris as he goes. He stops near the entrance. This is the spot. The fifty year rendezvous.

*

Not far from where Howard has come to a stop, the air shimmers for a moment like a heat haze. Then, there is a loud snap of air being violently displaced and a flash of light, and three figures appear. The central one is crouched and has his hands on the shoulders of the other two, apparently male and female. There is also some kind of box. As the light fades, Booster Gold stands up and shrugs off the overcoat he is wearing and is about to pull on his visor and cowl when he gets an eyeful of the battle going on. "Gosh," he remarks.

*

The large creature roars, spinning one way and then the other as it attempts to dislodge Captain America from its back as well as the shield. It's impossible, though. With his immense strength and determination, the large bluish creature crashes into a few trees, thrashing this way and that. Finally, it drops to the ground, twitching in its death throes.

*

Seeing Howard take off at run, Simmons calls out to Sara and Paul. "Mr Stark's on the move." She'll follow and as she moves, she pulls out a small tranquiliser gun armed with dendrotoxins darts. Picking her way through the debris, Simmons stops beside him "What are you doing here, Mr Stark?"

*

"Fine, swap me out," Sara calls back to Paul, dropping the fire extinguisher in favor of heavy, curved blades that continue along the line of her forearms like scythes. "Keep an eye on the science squad!" It's maybe not the most flattering nickname, but it's true. When the creature steps onto the pavement and slows, Sara makes her move, lunging toward it. One arm slices up and across where the creature's throat is, the other elbow slams downward in a move that thrusts the other blade through its shoulder.

*

Meggan considers what she's going to do when she gets there. Tackle something? Gather upwelling heat again? She has no idea, frankly, but the crackling tension coming off others, particularly Howard, tells her this is in fact a pretty great big deal.

But then!

FWASH!

Meggan skids to a halt, blinking owlishly.

"M— Booster!" she says, cheerfully. "We're just having some trouble here!" Over to Howard, Meggan expresses concern: "Are you alright, sir?"

*

Even now, Jarvis isn't quite certain what happened. He'd been turning to run, reaching out to catch Agent Carter's shoulder to propel her along, but now? Now there's bright lights, a strange man, and… and all of a sudden —

"Mister Stark?" The Englishman pulls off his reading glasses, tucking them into his coat pocket. But they're thoroughly not where they were before. He's not the Edwin Jarvis anyone's likely to remember: tall and thin, but with a full head of brown hair and a suit that looks like it came from 1946.

"Miss Carter!" he adds then, turning toward the woman. He glances between her and Booster, looking him up and down in some astonishment.

"Are you… some kind of spaceman? What's happened?"

*

The avianoid blinks as the rock creature turns attentions towards it. It extends talons, and ancient traceries of obscure circuitry begin to flare along the bird-thing's feathers and skin.

It realizes that simply letting itself get walloped by Rocky is not a viable option, nor is letting it beat on other officers or equipment.

It will attempt to make a slashing run on the stone entity, talons dancing amidst the rubbly form as it whips past it.

That laser blast had to come from somewhere and since it was aimed at Rocky, it has calculated that it is not the target. Therefore, if it can get it spun around so the laser - shooter has a better crack at the stony thing, everyone wins, right?

Of course, getting close to such a thing may have its own complications….

Paul nods to Sara and jogs after the ners, keeping his pistol in one hand and the nozzle in the other. It still might come in useful later.

*

Steve gives the shield a final shove and pauses as he breathes heavily to wipe some of the blood from his suit. The black goo is everywhere. "Gross," he says idly as he pulls the shield out with a thick, wet *SLUCK*

He leaps down off the monster and begins to look for ways he can help further.

*
"Hey Booster!" Kara calls out to Jon and resumes firing laser beam eyes on the rock like creatures with her eyes as she closes the gap towards them. When she's close enough she attempts to grab one of them and throw it into the other.

"Alright boys, let's burn!" Fitz aims his Portal Buster; the rest of his team does the same. Even as the three figures appear, the group releases waves of portal-stopping energy, invisible waves of power that disturb the air. The waves of distortion fly up toward this portal, and Fitz grits his teeth against the ferocious blow back from the nozzle of his weapon.

*
Peggy Carter is also unsure of what just went on. One moment she was in SHIELD, diffusing a bomb. And then she's in the dark in the middle of…she takes a look around her. Battery Park. As she's the sort of woman to carry a gun to a bomb diffusing, she pulls her Walther PPK and immeidatley points it at Booster. In the same motion, she reaches a hand out to yank Jarvis behind her.

"I don't know who you are or what you think you are doing, but you will put us—-" It's about then that the monsters start to come into focus. The shrieking and the yelling, the sirens. It's disorienting. "Crickey O'Riley! Where have you taken us?" The gun wavers only slightly, unsure of whether the villain is Booster Gold or everyone else here.

It's about when Jarvis mentions Mr. Stark, that she recognizes Howard. "…Howard…what are you doing here? You're supposed to be back at headquarters. What in the hell is going on here?"

*

Despite the chaos all around them, the joy in Howard's face is completely unmistakable. When he sees Jarvis, then Peggy, he smiles so very wide. "Hey guys. It's going to take some explaining. I…" his device starts to pin and ping and tweet. "Hold that thought. Simmons, Peggy Carter and Edwin Jarvis. Agent Simmons will watch out for you. I just have something I need to do."

He reaches down and opens the case. He withdraws an identical box to the one Booster just dropped off. He claps the time traveller on the arm, then sets off at a run again.

Every piece of scientific equipment in the place starts to ping and scream. The singularity is starting to form behind the stone walls of Castle Clinton. As he runs, he cuts in to Cap's radio. "Hey Steve. There's someone you might want to meet at the Castle gate. I never had any luck bringing you back to her. Looks like I managed the trick in the opposite direction."

Meanwhile, Fitz and his crew seem to have a handle on it. The portal's energy is starting to waiver and buckle. The telltale ectoplasm starts to ooze through the crack. The whole thing bulges outwards like something is trying to get through, but they're keeping it contained.

*

Another portal opens with its quick telltale burst of energy. Right in the midst of Castle Clinton, above Simmons and Howard, another creature drops. Landing immediately on the older man in a younger man's metal body, it cries out, lunging with its mouthful of fangs at him, biting down right at his shoulder.

*

Simmons just blinks and blinks again. She opens her mouth and closes it several times before managing to stutter "You're SSR Agent Carter. I mean the Agent Carter…." she may be fangirling a little, but who can blame her. It seems she's not phased by the time travelling thing… just yet.

As the creature drops from the sky onto Howard, she yelps a little and brings her tranq pistol up, firing two darts into the beast with a shakey aim.

*

"Yes, I can see that," Booster remarks to Meggan, when she points out that there is a bit of a skirmish going on in the area. He still has his cowl in his hands, but has let his coat drop to the ground. He is wearing his gleaming blue and gold super suit, of course. "Ma'am, sir," he says as he turns to Peggy and Jarvis, "I'm really sorry about grabbing you that way but it had to be done to keep you alive. And I'm bulletproof by the way." No need for Peggy to waste her ammunition on him. He pulls his cowl on now and adjusts his visor and speaks through his communicator. "Hey, Kara. I had to do an errand, I think we can close these portals now but we still need to contain these uh. Things. Monsters, you know."

*

The Witchblade cleaves through the creature's shoulder, though the blow isn't deep enough to sever head from body. Sara leans in closer, and as she does, the creature tries to wrap a hand around her throat. She's well-protected by the 'blade's armor, but where the creature touches her skin, it turns pale, and as its hand wraps around her throat, she gasps, a dangerous rattle beneath the sound. More than can be explained by just a hand at her throat.

Sara's a quick thinker, though, and the Witchblade is even quicker to violence. She reaches up, wrapping both hands around the arm at her neck, and wicked claws grow from the blade at her fingertips. Her grip tightens, even as her breath rattles, until the hand is ripped free and flung to the ground. "Screw. That," she gasps, giving what remains of the body a good kick to the pavement before daring a glance back over her shoulder at the scientists. "Things under control there?" she calls back, hoarse.

*

Meggan drips foul black ichor. This sundress is a loss.

She regards Peggy with pleasant confusion, which turns to tension as she pulls out a gun. But this seems like a misunderstanding. She attempts to emanate peace, but she's not feeling a lot of it. It might help around the margins. And then a new horror comes out, with a mouthful of fangs.

Meggan whirls around, her right arm already… doing something. It's rippling into something gelatinous but with a high density, to simultaneously aim to punch the incoming terror of shoulder-bitey in the chops and, if necessary or possible, get that durable — whatever-it-is — into its bitey little mouth. "Sorry about this!" she says to Peggy over her own shoulder. Or possibly Booster. It is a genuinely apologetic tone.

*

The swooping and lasers of Kara and Corvinus start to take its toll. As each stone falls from its body, the creature gets smaller and more powerful. However, it also gets angrier. Corvinus is easily able to dive bomb the creature and extract a few more stones. Kara's lasers do similar work. Unable to reach either the bird or the super girl flying above it, it rampages on the ground, running full tilt toward a blockade of police officers.

*

The lanky Brit gets shoved behind Peggy, which is just as well and is something that happens rather often. Jarvis, too, is hideously disoriented — it takes him a moment to realise where they are, though it looks… wrong. The people look wrong. The sounds are wrong. He's visibly horrified and shaken, but he feels rather that he shouldn't be the civilian pushed behind Agent Carter. That she needs defending as much as he does.

But at least Howard is here, even if he looks a bit — a bit suddenly crushed by a horrible fanged thing, apparently. He shouts out in horror, darting forward to defend the man. Simmons plugs it with a couple of tranquilizer darts, but he should be able to at least pull it off…

*

The avianoid will continue to attempt to draw the stone entity along after it, so the one with the lasers has a nice clean shot on it. It isn't quite aware that there is a Situation of Historical Significance happening at Castle Clinton at the moment, as it is currently attempting to prevent itself from becoming mush. It seems to be working until the rock thing appears to get stronger.

When it becomes obvious that the thing is going straight for relatively squishy NYPD folks it dives down to the ground and squats to push a police cruiser up on its end to mitigate some of the charge.

Probability of success: 60 percent. Probability of debilitating injury: 70 percent. Probability of increased reaction time for vulnerable forces: 90 percent.

It'll take that, even as it tries to drive it legs and wings to push the impromptu barricade against the rocky thing.

*

Paul finally catches up to the scientists once they come to a halt. The uniform might not be familiar to Peggy but the insignia should be. With a creature sinking its fangs into Stark's shoulder, the flamethrower is all but useless. Instead, he lifts his pistol so it's just an inch away from the thing's head and empties the rest of the clip, angled so as to avoid Jarvis in case they go right through its skull.. Given that Howard's not a real boy, multiple shots right next to his ear shouldn't be a problem. Hopefully?

*

"Howard, what's that? I don't copy," Cap says into the communicator. "I think have monster guts in my ear canal. Hold on, I should be over to your position in a jiffy." He mistakenly thinks Howard is in trouble. Which he is. Just not when Howard originally calls Steve.

Dripping the black ooze blood, Cap continues running as fast as he can. This time to the Clinton Castle. He arrives in hopes to catch whatever is happening to his friend, but the vision he gets is sort of confusing. Steve sort of stands there, trying to take everything in: Paul, Howard, a couple of other figures, and Booster's super shiny suit. And then Paul is emptying a clip into the monster. For a moment, Cap forgets that his friend is a machine and his body tenses as he reaches out towards his friend despite being about 20 yards away.

*

Kara does the only thing that comes to mind, she interposes herself between the beast and police officers and yells to them. "Run quickly!" She stares down the rock beast and as it gets closer she opens her mouth in a sonic scream aimed directly towards the creature; hopefully nobody was close to her, "Stay away FROM THEM!!!!!!!!!!" Hopefully, the sonic shockwaves could finish off the creature because she was not holding back.

*

"Hold it boys!" cries Fitz. "We've got this one!" The Portal Buster in his hands screams and whines, but it's powered by ARC technology. It'll hold.

He hopes.

*

The creature's fangs bite deep in to Howard's shoulder. He drops from the weight of it and the pair of identical blue boxes fall to the ground. Blood starts flowing instantly from the wound. If anyone was expecting to see robotic body parts - well, they don't truly understand the nature of a LMD. He's meant to mimic human beings perfectly, which means his internal systems function like biological ones.

The darts slow the monster, enough that its jaws slack and it releases Howard. The man slides out and hits the ground. It tries to take a groggy swipe at its attackers, but Meggan and Paul's combined might has it jerking, convulsing, then falling down dead.

There's a sudden sonic wave that shoots out over the whole scene, momentarily deadening the whole area and absorbing all sound. Then, a low rumble begins, and a soft crackle. The singularity starts to grow in the middle of the Castle. It's not bright or shimmering - it's a void of nothingness, a gaping maw that starts to grow, pulling in everything around it. It's a wound in time, and it's festering.

*

Fitz is having more luck than the folks at the axis. The portal pushes back, oozes a little more, then explodes in a splork of ecotoplasm.

*

"Is there anything of this magnitude you do that does not require some explaining?" Peggy raises an eyebrow at Howard. "Is that—" her eyes are drawn to the exact same box she and Jarvis just attempted to diffuse back in 1948. There are two of them now. This time she repeats herself, tone brokering no argument. "What is going on?" Booster is given a wary once over, though Meggan's emanating powers do work enough to get her to lower her weapon. "Bullet proof," she echoes, tone dry at the thought. "Of course. Why wouldn't a teleporting man in armor be bullet proof." Simmons' reaction to hearing her name surely wipes the sarcasm form her voice, surprised and wary to hear that she's known to a complete stranger. "Yes, though, there are more pressing matters at hand then my identity, I believe."

As the creature falls from the sky and onto Howard, both she and Jarvis whirl around practically at the same time as the monster dives at Howard. "Howard!" Her gun is raised, but there are too many people in the way of her aim. She has no idea that her old friend isn't flesh and blood and isn't willing to risk the shot of hurting either Howard or Jarvis who has joined the fray, or the mystery woman apologizing as she attacks.

*

Turning toward Booster again, as he somehow seems to know what is going on, she catches a glimpse of Steve - the bright coloring of the shield a dead give away even under all the black ichor. Her head shakes, attempting to clear it from seeing ghosts before refocusing on the task at hand as the large hole starts to grow over Castle Clinton and it starts to pull at them. Grabbing at Simmons and Booster, she shoves them toward a place to hold onto.

*

The Rock Figure is weakened. As both Corvinus and Kara plow into it with the police barricade and with the power of a sonic wave, the creature breaks up into rubble, scattering amongst the collapses police cars and the street just in time for the little pieces to start getting sucked up into the great expanding void now opening up above them.

*

The rumbling and crackling have Simmons turning and looking into the void but unlike the Master, she doesn't hear the sound of drums. Shaking off Peggys grab, she'll apologise for that later, Simmons looks around Fitz. "Never hear when I need him" she grumbles to herself as she frets at her bottom lip.

*

The box Howard was holding and the duplicate that Booster bought in. Now Howards comments are starting to make sense. Grabbing both boxes, the young biochem, runs towards the singularity and crouches down as she gets close to it, it's getting rougher as she gets closer.

As her hair is whipped by the winds that emanate from the void, Simmons studies the units for what seems many long moments and connects the two boxes together with the wires hanging from the one from the past. Flipping a switch, she starts back towards the group, running fast. "Get down…. I think I understood what Mr Stark said."

*

Normally, Booster would be leaping into the fray, but it seems he has other concerns at the moment. In any case, there are several capable heroes in the area. He is reaching towards the case Howard left, saying to Peggy, "We didn't teleport, we time-traveled." And then, with a facial shrug he admits, "Semantics." He starts to explain, "You're from a… a doomed eventuality, so—" And then things get extremely loud and terrible. "Ugh," opines Booster, and even as Peggy is grabbing at his arm, he snatches the small portable generator in the case. The star on his chest as well as his eyes are starting to glow, the light streaming towards the new portal. "I still need to stabilize when you guys are from," he exclaims, almost violently slapping at the generator to turn it on, and starting to rapidly absorb power from it.

*

Getting no answer, Sara turns to run toward the castle with the others, though her breath still rattles in her throat. Damned creatures. "Stark! How do we shut this damned thing?" she shouts. Protected by eldritch armor, she's probably not a particularly comforting sight. This looks like it's about to go very bad, very fast.

Reaching out through the ley stone in her pocket (yes, there are still pockets under the armor), she sends a message to Kara. « Hey, Supes, we need an extraction over here. Anyone not carrying a pack or looking like a scientist needs to get out of range, fast. »

*

Meggan makes a noise that isn't quite human as Paul discharges a firearm about a yard or less from her shapely shell-like elven ear. She also makes a face to match it.

But she'll live! Probably. The creature's crumpling. Meggan doesn't have time to give Howard Stark's bloody wound any attention before there is a bloody, suppurating gash in the void of space itself. Her head turns, hair whipping in the wind it produces.

Meggan can't hear it. Meggan can't hear much of anything. She does shuffle approximately towards Edwin and Peggy, perhaps anticipating a need to hoist-and-carry toot suite in a moment.

*

The avianoid glances over at Kara and lets the shattered remains of the cruiser drop before launching itself skywards. It only ascends about a hundred feet as it starts to feel suction upon it. That is NOT GOOD.

It skip-hops along towards where the rest of the individuals have gone, deliberately keeping the jumps long but not very high as it tries to close the distance. It has no idea what it is going to do when it gets to the location, but every little bit helps in a situation like this and with no apparent threats out here…

*

You'd expect something like a singularity exploding to make a lot of noise. In fact, what's remarkable about it is the utter soundlessness. The blue boxes chime in concert, chirruping back and forth in an endless feedback loop. From the moment they overload, all sound disappears within a one-mile radius. No one can speak. All sound is absorbed into the aether. The pair of blue boxes fold in on themselves like origami. As they do, they emit temporal energy that feeds into the tear. Bit by bit, the tear starts to close, the objects stop rushing towards the wound.

When it's all over, a different kind of silence falls. It's one of calm after a storm. Though there might still be some bits of monster raging about.

*

The creature's crumpling and BLAM BLAM BLAM — Jarvis ducks, covers his head with his long and gangly arms, and skids to a halt when he finally gets to Howard and the monster gnawing on him. Well. Not anymore, anyway. He wrenches it aside — good God, there's blood everywhere — and his hands are moving to the wound to put pressure on it when the singularity begins to open. He looks up in horror, raising his arm to shield his eyes, extending his other arm to shield Stark from whatever might be happening.

It's perhaps the most amazing sight he's ever encountered, and one that makes his stomach wrench, but he manages to keep on the ground for it. He might have lost some sanity points, but he's alive.

The strangeness of the world around them is ignored for the moment — Peggy's all right, because she always is, but Howard's right here bleeding out. Questioning how and why isn't going to put pressure on that wound. Putting pressure on that wound is putting pressure on that wound.

*

What in the hell?

The shield falls to the ground, rolls slightly before falling flat against its star. Steve stares towards the group in shock as he slowly reaches up to unbuckle his helmet, yanking the leather away from the clasp. It clanks in a hollow manner on the ground as he tries to get a better look. Still covered in black smudge, clearly something must have gotten in his eyes, but that almost sounded like..

His eyes squint as if the sun is shining in them, but it's not. "Peg?"

*

Kara hears the voice inside of her head as Sara speaks to her and focuses on the pendant worn around her neck, "<Got it! Let me know if you need anything.>" As the chaos rages around the area she does her best to evacuate squishy folks from the danger zones and she seems relieved when the singularities begin to disappear and the calm after the storm hits.

Kara set a man down in a safe area and sat down on a bench, taking a moment to relax. There were plenty of folks here to clean up the remains of the monsters.

*

The explosion knocks Fitz right off his feet. His head cracks against the cement beneath him, and he's out like a light, a little pool of blood forming beneath. Fortunately, the Portal Buster has a kill switch, so the device powers down upon impact.

*

Simmons slips Peggy's grip and despite her attempt to ensure the woman's safety, she is off to do her own thing, which is apparently closing the singularity and saving them all. Similarly, Booster is off to do whatever men who teleport do. "…Time travel..?" is all she manages to utter before he's gone and the black hole above them creates a space where no noise can be uttered.

*

Howard is bleeding and Jarvis is tending to him. Numbly, the former SSR Agent makes her way toward them when the first noise that travels after the strangely horrifying and beautiful sight of the singularity closing is her name. Her name from a man who has been dead for years. Voices are the first thing to go in memory and while it was impossible to forget Steve, at times she forgot exactly how he sounded. Until now.

Her approach to help Jarvis and Howard is abruptly halted, Peggy turns. "…Steve…" The gun falls from her hand and drops to the ground, unbelieving, tears suddenly in her eyes. "My God…Steve…you're—-you're alive…!"

*

That's a lot of blood. So much blood that Howard shouldn't be conscious. But he is. He's grinning at Jarvis, even through the pain. "Edwin. It's so good to see you. Sorry about the mess. This is going to take a lot of explaining."

The other thing that might take some explaining is how the wound in his shoulder suddenly looks…smaller than the tooth marks that tore apart his shirt. There's still very much a wound, but it's slowly knitting back together of its own accord.

He has enough presence of mind to crane up and witness (from an odd angle) the reunion in progress. "Better late than never, huh?" he croaks out, then coughs weakly.

*

Booster staggers back with some relief when the portal stops sucking temporal energy from him and instead takes it from the folding blue boxes. The light stops streaming away from his eyes and the star on his chest, and they settle into a much more subtle glow as he draws power from the small generator faster than it can produce it. By the time it starts to noisily fail, his powercells are recharged and he says, "Sorry to run off. I'll be right back. Uh, relatively speaking. I need to stabilize things so Ms Carter and Mr. Jarvis don't get consumed." And then there is a flash of light around his form and Booster Gold is gone.

*

Once the singularity is closed, Sara has a moment to actually see what's happening. An extremely long, extremely uncomfortable moment. What, exactly, are you supposed to do when your time-displaced boyfriend runs into the not quite girlfriend he never had a chance to have, visiting from the 1940s?

Apparently, the answer is 'anything but watch.' Rather than acknowledge anything to do with what's happening, she jogs over to where Fitz lies on the pavement, sticking with her 'protect the scientists' mission by checking to make sure the bump on the head isn't too bad.

*

Meggan doesn't notice the silence, conveniently for her.

Well, she does, after a bit. She can feel something huge shifting in the air, though it is titanic, epochal enough that she initially braces herself, thinking that it's actually some sort of an impending attack by the real main monster, the real Slim Shady of this spontaneous, picnic-destroying voyage d' horreur.

But in fact… it's coming from Peggy. Blinking, Meggan looks at her with tension - and then dawning awareness. Her face lights up, especially when Howard adds to the chorus. She actually clasps her hands together (which sends a few droplets of black grodiness flying off, possibly landing on the unconscious Fitz).

"OH, isn't this just wonderf-" Meggan begins to say, a bit too loudly, as she turns to face Booster Gold, her hands still clasped. Just in time for him to go 'pouf!' and vanish.

Meggan's brilliant facial expression remains, but a little fixed, for several moments.

*

Simmons throws herself forward as she hears the boxes overload, making sure she's out of the range of whatever it is they're about to do. Tumbling to the ground, she sprawls a little and looks up in time to see Fitz go down. "Oh my god, Fitz. Someone … " scrambling up, the biochem heads towards her friend. It looks pretty bad from where she's standing. Her movement is halted though, as Steve and Peggy and reunited, and she smiles in a silly way before starting towards Fitz again.

It's then that she notices the avianoid creature and she cants her head in interest, but she keeps moving to Fitz and, now, Sara.

*

The avianoid arrives at the clump of people in the quiet zone and does not interfere with reunions or the like. No, it does a most bizarre thing and stands over the shield and the mask of the Captain, guarding the items from anyone BUT the rightful wearer. It does not threaten any other locations, it lets any others move around the area, but Captain America's articles will remain under guard and secure. It'd never hear the end of it from the partner if it let those patriotic relics get taken away.

If anyone else DOES try to take the items, there will be a brandishing of talons and a clearing of the throat…

*

Steve looks away toward Howard to break through his confusion, just to be sure his friend is alright. Once Stark is cracking jokes, he takes that as a good sign. The overstrap of his leather glove comes off, just so he can do something with his awkward hands that suddenly feel superfluous as he tries to figure out any of a thousand things in his mind. "How?"

*

"Howard?"

The Brit looks down at the LMD with obvious confusion — the wound is almost gone now, though his hands are covered with blood. Or what looks like blood.

He follows the Stark's gaze, though, and his eyes move between Steve and Peggy where they stand. Something so momentous that Peggy dropped her gun, which is more or less unheard of. His jaw drops — the man's even wearing his old costume.

But his gaze, now that it seems that Howard isn't in fact dying, is starting to pick up all the other very, very strange features. The strange clothes. The strange people. The very good question from Captain Rogers —

"Yes. How?" This question is pointed back to Howard, and if he's not dying, Jarvis is going to help him up.

*

The wound now looks like it should really look in two or three days from now. That is, knitted up, still visible and angry, but no longer life threatening. It sure did make a mess, though. His shirt is in tatters and what's left of it is drenched in blood. It's sprayed up his neck and over his arm. He stands with Jarvis' help, though it's clear he's still in some pain.

"What happened is I closed a causality loop and sealed the axis. Or rather…Agent Simmons sealed the axis," he nods towards the young scientist and gives her a wink. "I knew this was going to happen, because I saw Booster Gold in 1948. The file was marked top secret because if anyone else knew, it might stop this option from working and we'd be standing in a black wasteland where Manhattan used to be."

*

There is another flash of blue-white light, not far from the group, and Booster reappears. The truth is that he could have returned seconds after he'd left; instead, he delayed his return by several minutes in order to avoid having to answer too many questions. That's being left up to Howard. Booster will never admit to this.

Although he seems unhurt, Booster Gold does seem scuffed up, with his suit torn in a few places. Hints of exposed circuitry sparkle under the shiny metallic skin. "Okay!" He says, smiling brightly and giving a thumbs up. "We're all cool."

*

Cap nods a few times absently as Howard speaks, feeling kind of bad he treated his friend like dirt. In the light of all that, it pretty much makes total sense. Just like the Starks to be right in the end. He nods a few times, searching for words.

But then Booster comes back and Steve tilts his head toward him. "Did you know this the whole time, Booster?"

Finished with delaying the inevitable he walks over toward Peggy and pulls her into an embrace.

*

"Yeah, thanks for the heads up on that front, Stark," Sara calls back to the scientist with a roll of her eyes, the Witchblade armor gone as she shrugs out of her jacket to tuck it under Fitz's head once she's sure he's breathing. Focus on Stark, yeah. No one's going to be surprised or think it's weird to yell at Stark.

There wasn't much left for Kara here and since everyone was very busy with their reunions and SHIELD business she took the chance to slink. She took off flying up into the clouds with her cape fluttering behind her as she headed back to Metropolis.

*

Meggan is in abeyance for a few moments. Her hearing returns to her, at least in significant part and without having to sprout new ears on her knees. She gives the fallen anxious looks, and tries to wipe gunk off her hands as she shifts from foot to foot. "I didn't know you knew /Captain America/," she says to Booster, parenthetically.

*

"There were two of us," Jarvis continues. He supports Howard with an arm around his back and under his arms, but he does carry on looking over at — oh, the moment of their reunion is beautiful. Just beautiful.

He starts putting things together, though: "So we've moved in time, then? But how did you — how will everything go on having happened? How are you here as well? You were well away, you made it out. Will the… other ones of us just carry on as if nothing happened?"

*

"Naw, Captain." Booster shakes his head, lifting his hands. "After you and I talked, I decided I was going to go back to the 1940s to figure it out. And not long after that, Howard saw me and realized I was the person he saw in 1948, doing what I'd already planned to do. And then I got my stuff together and went back in time, and came here, and you saw the rest." He shrugs, then, as if this should explain everything simply and succinctly. He turns and says to Meggan, "Well… to be fair, Megs, I didn't know you didn't."

*

Joining Sara at Fitz's side, Jemma crouches down and starts to check him over. "We need to get him back to SHIELD Medical, Agent Pezinni." Peering at the woman, something in her tone sounds off, Simmons murmurs "You, OK, Sara?"

*

There are many things that Peggy should be doing. She's a field agent. She should be tending to the knocked out Fitz, ensuring Howard is alright, checking on Jarvis, figuring out what Booster meant by time travel. However, none of that is happening. Rooted to the spot, she stares at Steve, unsure of this is a dream, if she and Jarvis actually died in that room with the bomb and this is some strange version of an afterlife.

Howard's explanation is met with a nod. Slowly, Peggy turns toward her old friend, unsure of how to react in this moment. The thought of her somehow consumed did not even occur to her, as she still has no idea what is happening. "You knew this would happen?" He still looks like a younger version of himself and she's not sure where in time she is. The phrase 'back in 1948' seems to mean years have passed. She has no idea how many.

There's time for that later, though, as she sees that Steve is approaching. Closing the distance, she wraps her arms around him as well, tears finally spilling as she realizes that he is here, alive. "How are you here…?" she asks him, as if it is his appearance here that is the strange one and not her own.

"That's fair enough," Meggan says after Booster points out the obvious.

She looks towards Peggy, Jarvis, Howard, Steve in thoughtful silence for long moments. The ringing in her ears is fading slowly but surely.

"D'you go back in time often, then," she asks Booster, blinking owlishly as the implications of this slips in. She also sees some confusion and adds helpfully, "It's 2015 by the way!" to the new temporal refugees.

*

Cap shakes his head, nonplussed, about to cry himself. "I was going to ask you the same thing.

*

"Couldn't risk causality, Pezzini. You understand." Howard chuckles roughly and leans rather heavily on Jarvis. "Look, there's a lot to talk about, but I think everyone could use a nap." A beat, "Well, at least I could. I've never dealt with this kind of injury before. It's draining. Plus it stings. Plus…I think that thing was poisonous." Ahem. "Edwin, I promise I'll explain everything." He can't promise he'll like it, but. He stares at his friend for a bit, then looks past to Peggy. "Damn, it's good to see you both."

And then, promptly, Howard's knees buckle together. His eyes rolls back in his head, and he slumps forward like a ragdoll. Any further answers are going to have to wait until after that badly needed nap.

*

"I'm fine," Sara replies to Simmons, though the twitch in her jaw suggests that probably isn't entirely true. "You're right, we should get him to medical. You want to check his neck, make sure I'm not going to damage his spine if I pick him up to take him back to the convoy?" Poor Fitz. He helps save the day, and then he's going to get carted off like a rescued princess.

*

"Eh," Booster answers Meggan's question with a see-sawing of his hand. "Not, you know, not habitually." He leaves it at that, as he seems to feel this is as good an answer as any. But he does tell Jarvis, "You still exist as you did back in the 1940s. You had a…" He pauses, then puts his hands together in a V shape. "You know how people talk about timelines splitting because one thing happens in one, and another in the other? That kind of happened to you. You guys are from a doomed one and technically you're dead, but since you're here now, you're not." He shrugs and eventually adds, "Because it seemed like it would suck if we just let you die." An answer to an unasked question, but perhaps good to know.

*

"And now you've reunited them (I think so anyway), that's so terribly /romantic/, M- Booster!" Meggan says. Enthused, she moves to give him a brief and excited hug, which may get the monster blood on him.

"What were those creatures we had to beat up?" she continues to ask, though really at any point this whole line of inquiry could end.


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